Causes of Neck Pain

Causes of Neck Pain


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There are many causes for neck pain. Some causes result from acute injuries which cannot be avoided, such as an automobile accident resulting in a whiplash-type injuries. Other causes can be avoided and result from the use improper habits and techniques, such as poor posture and improper lifting. These causes make up the majority of neck pain and can be effectively treated once these causes are identified and the appropriate measures are taken to  avoid these “bad” and improper habits.

There are many causes for neck pain. Some causes result from acute injuries which cannot be avoided, such as an automobile accident resulti

Some of the more common causes of neck pain include:

  • Excessive repetitive neck motions
  • Whiplash-type injuries
  • Degeneration
  • Poor posture
  • Presence of cervical spine subluxations
  • Incomplete rehabilitation of past injuries
  • Improper workstation setup
  • Excessive mental stress
  • Physical inactivity

Determining the exact cause of neck pain can be a challenge, and requires obtaining an accurate history and an appropriate examination. This page describes several common causes of neck pain.

If you are suffering from back pain, do not try to self-diagnosis the cause. Make an appointment with a neck pain specialist at The Roeske Clinic to evaluate your situation and design a treatment program for you.

Whiplash Type Injury

A sudden forced movement of the head or neck in any direction and the resulting “rebound” in the opposite direction is known as whiplash. The sudden “whipping” motion injures the surrounding and supporting tissues of the neck and head. Muscles react by tightening and contracting, creating muscle fatigue, which can result in pain and stiffness. Severe whiplash can also be associated with injury to the intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, muscles, and nerve roots. Car accidents are the most common cause of whiplash.


A common joint disorder, causes progressive deterioration of cartilage. The body reacts by forming bone spurs that affect joint motion.

Spinal Stenosis

Narrowing of small nerve passageways in the vertebrae can cause compression and trapping of nerve roots.  Stenosis may cause neck, shoulder, and arm pain, as well as numbness, when these nerves are unable to function normally.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Can cause reduction in the elasticity and height of intervertebral discs. Over time, a disc may bulge or herniate, causing tingling, numbness, and neck pain that runs into the arm.
Poor posture, obesity, and weak abdominal muscles often disrupt spinal balance, causing the neck to bend forward to compensate.

Excessive Emotional/Mental Stress

Stress can cause muscles to tighten and contract, resulting in pain and stiffness. Postural stress can contribute to chronic neck pain with symptoms extending into the upper back and the arms.